Asee peer logo

The Use Of Mathcad As A Lecture Aid For Compressible Flow

Download Paper |


1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.485.1 - 1.485.9

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Fred M. Young

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2666

The Use of Mathcad as a Lecture Aid for Compressible Flow

Fred M. Young Lamar University


While Mathcad is primarily intended as a technical calculation and documentation aid, the use of this software for lectures in compressible flow was found to provide a number of advantages over traditional chalkboard approaches. For example, the students viewed much clearer and professional looking text, mathematics, figures and plots then would be possible using chalkboard based lecture and there was the additional bonus of the use of color. Handouts that duplicated the material presented were prepared and distributed thus giving students the opportunity to pay more attention to what was being said and less to copying notes from the blackboard. Lecture presentation was greatly facilitated by the Mathcad environment that made mathematical derivations simple through symbolic and arithmetical calculation, particularly those involving physical units. These same capabilities gave the instructor the ability to answer student "but what if...." questions during lectures by simply changing the calculation or derivation in real time and pursuing the line suggested by the student. As a bonus, it was easy to compile the lecture notes, examples, and quiz questions into an electronic book for the students to use in the future as the need to review compressible flow arises. While the time involved in preparing the initial set of lecture notes was much greater than the usual lecture preparation, the format that has been created will permit continuos future improvement with small additional expenditure of time. It may be possible in the future to further build on the electronic book as an aid or vehicle for distance learning.


As is the case with most universities, Lamar University is experimenting with a number of alternate and multi-media mechanisms for the delivery or enhancement of education. All of these mechanisms involve substantial investment of capital resources at a time of constrained higher education funding. Therefore, the investments must be made in technology that has a direct educational pay off with very little room for failure. The ideal low risk path would involve an evolution of traditional instructional methodology into the emerging higher education environment of greater teaching obligations combined with students who may be time and/or location constrained.

Mathcad appeared to offer some assistance along this evolutionary path at least for quantitative engineering courses. A project of using Mathcad to prepare and distribute lecture notes for a senior/first level graduate course in compressible flow was initiated. Since the lecture notes existed in electronic form, the next logical step of using other software packages to display these notes to students was also initiated. A simple hardware system consisting of a notebook computer (486DX20 with a 100 meg hard drive and Windows 3.1), an LCD color "Boxlight", and an overhead projector all mounted on a caster equipped table was scrounged.

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Young, F. M. (1996, June), The Use Of Mathcad As A Lecture Aid For Compressible Flow Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1996 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015